Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2024

Ferrari’s strategy gains in 2024 are “purely down to the car” – Sainz

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Any improvement Ferrari appears to have made with its strategies this year are down to its car being more competitive, says Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Both Ferrari drivers finished higher than they started in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. However Sainz believes this was not because the team made better tactical calls, but because the SF-24 manages its tyres better over a stint.

“I think we’ve made progress on strategy over the last three years, progressively, but if you see a jump this year on strategy, it’s purely down to the car,” he said. “Having a car that allows you to have flexibility on strategy is something that last year we couldn’t have.

“We were boxed in to stop at certain laps. We couldn’t extend [our stints]. We had so much deg that it looked always like people could extend and then come back on us on a harder tyre.

“Last year, we were just zero flexible and we couldn’t do anything… So it looked like we were not getting the strategy right a lot of times.

“But when you have a car that is better on tyres, two drivers that can push on the car more often and you have that extra flexibility, your strategy also looks better. I’m not underestimating the progress we’ve done, it’s just I really think this helps a lot.”

Ferrari were criticised for several of their tactical calls during the 2022 season, many of which struck Sainz’s team mate Charles Leclerc. He missed potential wins after leading in Monaco, Silverstone and the Hungaroring that year and was badly disadvantaged during qualifying at Interlagos.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

After that season Frederic Vasseur replaced Mattia Binotto in charge of the team and overhauled the team’s strategy division. The changes included promoting Ravin Jain to chief strategist in place of Inaki Rueda.

In the three races Sainz has started this year, he has won once and finished the other two only behind the two Red Bull drivers. His strong results have come at a useful time as he is without a contract for next year, but he said any apparent improvement in his performance is also down to the car.

“We just simply improved the car. People might think I’m in a better moment driving and everything, but the reality is just in Formula 1, a car is very important.

“Also this year, I’m in a very good moment. I’m driving at a high level, but at the same time, having a car that just allows you to go a bit longer, allows you to be a bit closer in dirty air and play around a bit more with strategy, just allows you to shine a bit more.

“That’s why it’s important in the career of a driver also to be in a [competitive] car, because last year in the races we looked like we were always going backwards, always defending. We were terrible with tyre management and [it] was difficult to do good races.

“This year, suddenly three races, two podiums, a lot of overtaking, a win. It’s a completely different picture. It shows that in this sport that is very important too.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Having more strategic options “allows me to go forward in the races,” he added, “instead of looking in my mirrors all the time to offset myself with strategy and then overtake people, which is something that last year wasn’t on the cards at any point. So I’m happy and it makes me enjoy more racing.”

2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

15 comments on “Ferrari’s strategy gains in 2024 are “purely down to the car” – Sainz”

  1. Ferrari’s strategy gains in 2024 are “purely down to Sainz” – The car

    1. So was Leclerc’s one-stop strategy in Suzuka because of Sainz too?

      1. You might be fun to party

        1. Sometimes it’s hard to know when F1 fans are being serious these days. Or at least half-serious.

    2. So they are still clowns? but the car is good enough for any strategy … :)

  2. And the other cars (Mercs/Renaults)

  3. I am a little tired of Sainz making himself look good over Leclerc every situation he gets. As soon as Perez in the cool down room said that Charles was good on the tires, Sainz had to say that it was up to the car and not the driver. And if it was the driver, he could do better. I mean he is having great results, but they speak for themselves no need to specify everything (it feels a little disrespectful to the strategy people in Ferrari too).

    1. It’s obvious Fred has been successful in getting the pit crew improved and Ferrari has been much better with strategy and making the right decision with limited time. Their seeming tire fix does make it easier too. If Sainz wanted to be completely honest, he would have said yes, but having a chassis that is easier on its tires and consistently fast allows the team more options.

    2. He is out so if he wants to drive F1 next year he needs to profile himself and to be honest he does a beter job then Charles at the moment….

  4. Compare the last stint, Charles was losing loads of time compared to Carlos. The 1-stop strategy did work but only just, while Carlos was exactly on pair with Max (who was coasting, most likely, but still)

    In spite of what Carlos says I find that the strategic decisions at Ferrari this season are significantly improved with no serious screw-ups so far

    1. Except for the upcoming change in drivers which is going to prove abysmal

      1. Depends, some drivers can be good at certain teams and bad at others, I wouldn’t rule hamilton out yet.

  5. Charles was the only driver who made one stop worked and he gained 4 places. That was down to a combination of brave strategy, car and driver. Before the 1st pit stop of Carlos, Charles was aprox 7,7 sec back, at the end of the race, time difference between two drivers was 5,7sec. That shows Charles executed the unfavorable 1 stop strategy as good as the two stop.

  6. I welcomed Lewis’s move to Ferrari when it was announced, although we must acknowledge that it’s possibly come a bit late in his career. Since then Sainz has been clobbering Vasseur on the head with his superlative form. What a driver Ferrari are losing!!

    1. Not a Lewis fan, but this might all be a distant memory three races from now, by the end of the season or when he starts at Ferrari and does exceedingly well. Or, this is not just a usual Lewis struggle with a tricky car paired with his tendency to easily get demoralized and it will become famous as one of the worst moves in F1 history (more because of the $ IMO than Sainz being the next Senna).

      We’ve had more than enough sample size to know Leclerc has a decent edge on Sainz. It’ll take more than three, six or even nine races to know if this is the beginning of something bigger. What we do know for sure is their strongest performance characteristics and preferences lie in different areas.

Comments are closed.